Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Coming Together, we can do big things and small things

Saturday, July 26th, 2014

As I type my husband and I are en route to Oshkosh for AirVenture 2014.

On the first day, after having flown 5.5 hours, we landed in Dumas, Texas  at Moore County Airport[KDUX]. What a sweet airport. A nice young man driving a golf cart who called me Ma’am greeted us. Quickly after that Brandon Cox, the airport manager, arrived to help us pump gas. He asked if we would like to go into town. When I said that we would, he said, “We can take care of you.” Brandon gave us the keys to a nice sedan with no form to fill out, and no questions asked. This is one of the small things I love about G.A.

Shortly before we left California’s Central Coast a group of 20 or so volunteers helped to help get New Cuyama Airport [L88] re-opened after having fallen into disrepair. The workers painted, raked, removed weeds, and filled cracks in the asphalt. Although there is still some work to do, it is amazing what big things a group of spirited volunteers can do when working together.

On the second big travel day we stopped in Poplar Grove, Illinois [C77]. This is place is an aviator’s paradise. Tina Thomas of Poplar Grove Airmotive warmly greeted us.

Golf cart ride around C77

Golf cart ride around C77

Shortly after that future aviatrix, Makayla gave us a complete tour of the airport, Vintage Wings & Wheels Museum and environs. In addition to being an accomplished tour-guide and golf cart driver, 8-year-old Makayla really was an ambassador for her home airport. She told us who lived where, what they flew or drove, or what kind of dog they had. She says that she wants to be a pilot, and I believe she will do it.

Mikayla doing the Jeppesen

Mikayla doing the “Jeppesen”

Inside the museum Judi Zangs the general manager met us. She explained that the idea of wings and wheels was a walk back in time to the airfields and roadways of history and to share America’s love for the automobile and airplane.

When we arrived back at the FBO Tina had found a place for us to hangar the Mooney for the overnight and offered to take us into town and pick us up in the morning. The sort of warm hospitality shown us at Poplar Grove is another example of how we can all do large and small things to inspire flight and protect airports.

Now we look forward to a short 45-minute Mooney flight into OSH14. Attending Oshkosh is a treat for every aviation lover. But it is also a wonderful networking opportunity for those of us working in GA advocacy and airport protection. There are always so many things to do at AirVenture.

I am particularly intrigued by Dan Pimentel’s Airplanista blog and #Oshbash event that I will be attending.   In speaking with Dan, he says that, “The annual #Oshbash event primarily a meet up for #avgeeks that live on Twitter. It’s a chance for tweeps on there to put faces with names.” The program for #Oshbash 2014 is the GA Power Collective, a panel discussion featuring seven influential representatives from the major aviation associations and organizations. He says, “I had written an article on my blog in December, 2013 stating that my “Christmas wish for aviation” was to grow the pilot population to 1,000,000 certificated pilots…from the current number of approximately 552,000. My article said that the major associations need to stop working in silos and begin working together…as a collective…to develop one winning strategy to stimulate growth in the pilot community. It is clear that what we have now is not working. This must change if general aviation wants to have a future.” The discussion will be moderated by Pimentel. Panelists include: Frank Ayers Jr. Chancellor, Prescott Campus Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Dick Knapinski, Senior Communications Advisor, EAA, Dr. Peggy Chabrian, President, Women in Aviation International, Brittney Miculka, Director of Outreach, AOPA, Dan Johnson President, Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association, Martha Phillips President, The Ninety Nines and Kathryn Fraser Director of Safety & Outreach, General Aviation Manufacturers Association. Personally I am anxious hear this lively discussion.

We simply cannot wait for a state or national aviation group to rescue our airport, be an ambassador for aviation, or provide a friendly face to our community. We have to do that for ourselves. We all must work together toward building the pilot population, preserving the pilots we do have, and protecting our airports.

I cannot wait to see all my “G.A. family” at Oshkosh. However it is a working vacation for me. At the end of the six days I will be tired, but it will be a happy tired.

Commercial Certificate Not Required—Part 2

Friday, July 25th, 2014

 

Responders to last month’s blog in this space noted that companies often prohibit the use of personal aircraft by employees for business transportation. Other readers lamented that many employers allowing the use of a GA aircraft on company travel establish policies that are so restrictive that few private pilots can comply. In my opinion, outright bans as well as nearly impossible provisions that are de facto rejections of employee use of owned or rented aircraft for business travel simply reflect an uninformed bias against an efficient and safe form of travel.

 

Employees who have demonstrated their proficiency by earning a Private Pilot’s certificate with an instrument rating should be allowed to conduct business travel just as they are allowed to use their personal car for such trips. Use of employee-owned or rented aircraft increases employee productivity, provides more efficient use of travel time compared with use of a personal car, and is not a risk to shareholders or private owners of the company. Furthermore, such travel is safe.

 

The argument about which form of travel—via car or private aircraft—is safer need not be debated in this forum. Personally, I prefer to travel via GA.   As pilot–in-command, I have more control over my response to factors influencing safety, such as unacceptable weather conditions or personal fatigue or the actions of third parties. I suspect that I am far more likely to overestimate my ability to deal with challenging safety factors when travel by car than by an aircraft I am piloting. Also, the probability of being the victim of another person’s error is significantly less when flying my own aircraft than when driving my own or a rented car.

 

Good governance demands that Boards establish travel policies, and efficient governance dictates that all forms of travel, including use of personal aircraft, should be allowed. Motivation for such a policy should be obtaining the maximum productivity from employees and time—not protection against travel-related mishaps. Companies simply do not have the ability to assure that an employee will follow procedure. Nor will an injured party be discouraged from pursuing the deep pockets of the employer should there be a mishap, regardless of what policies are in-place.

 

All companies, public or private, should obtain liability coverage to protect the firm from errors made by employees and by unaffiliated third parties. For example, a company is well advised to have non- owner liability insurance for car and aircraft. Having a policy prohibiting an employee from traveling on company business in his or her car or aircraft is not sufficient protection should there be an accident.

 

A company might require employees using a personal aircraft on business to carry a certain level of liability insurance and name the employer as an additional insured. But company-imposed limits should be reasonable. Surprisingly, such liability coverage is not prohibitively expensive.

 

There is no rational excuse for refusing to treat a personal aircraft for business travel differently from using a personal car. Requiring ground travel when a private aircraft is available is simply a waste of time and an example of poor management.

Commercial Certificate Not Required

Friday, June 27th, 2014

 

What pops into your mind when you hear the words Business Aviation? Salaried pilots flying corporate jets?  Transportation for big shots? While I doubt my definition is documented in the Federal Aviation Regulations, I think of Business Aviation as the use of a General Aviation aircraft for business transportation. (So does the National Business Aviation Association.) When I flew my B-55 Baron maintained in accordance with FAR Part 91 to see clients or attend business meetings, I was truly engaged in Business Aviation regardless of the certificates I held at the time. Any pilot desiring to travel for reasons of personal business can use any aircraft for which he or she is qualified to fly. A commercial certificate is not required provided the flight is neither for compensation or hire.

 

General Aviation, according to the Federal Aviation Administration, encompasses all flights that are not conducted by either Scheduled Airlines or the Military. Thus a salesperson with a private pilot certificate using his or her rented or owned aircraft to contact clients is truly engaged in Business Aviation.

 

The benefits of using a private aircraft for business travel are significant. If you have not considered this form of transportation, you should regardless of the type of aircraft you operate or the pilot certificate you hold.

 

The business man or woman who flies a GA aircraft has access to about 10 times the airports with any Scheduled Airline service and nearly 100 times the locations with frequent flights. About 50 airports in the USA account for nearly 80 percent of all passenger enplanements, which means that it is often difficult to find a scheduled flight that serves a business person’s transportation needs in a timely and efficient fashion.   In many situations, the nearest airport with Scheduled Airline service is many miles from the intended business meeting.

 

With the Scheduled Airlines participating in a practice called “Capacity Discipline”, fewer airline flights are available. Departures from major hubs since 2007 have been reduced by nearly nine percent. Flights from second and third tier airports are fewer by about 20 percent. Overall, domestic departures by Scheduled Airlines were down by 14.4 percent between 2007 and 2012. Thus the advantages of using General Aviation aircraft for business travel increase yearly.

 

A private pilot using a GA aircraft for business travel must understand what constitutes compensation, however. The federal government regards receipt of anything valuable in return for providing air transportation as being compensated. Thus a company that allows an employee to be paid for miles of travel, such as receiving a mileage allowance as if driving his or her personal car, might be deemed as being compensated. On the other hand, a private pilot is allowed to share operating expenses with passengers provided he or she pays a pro rate portion of the cost of fuel, oil, airport expenditures and rental fees. Maintenance, financing and capital costs, however, cannot be included in the assessment of operating costs when sharing expenses with a passenger.

 

Furthermore, flights flown by a private pilot must be incidental to his or her business or employment. For example, a person engaged in aerial photography would require a commercial certificate to pilot the camera aircraft; a person employed with a pipeline company would need a commercial certificate to fly pipeline patrol.

 

Check with your tax advisor or with the AOPA regarding how you should account for the cost of business travel in your own or rented aircraft. Also consult with your broker regarding any limitations imposed by your insurance carrier.

 

An additional caveat: While a commercial certificate is not necessary, holding a current instrument rating and being proficient flying in IMC is a practical necessity for any aviator contemplating the use of a GA aircraft for business travel.

Why Returning To The “Golden Age of Aviation” Is A Terrible Future

Monday, June 16th, 2014

pilot

Here’s a Private Pilot, circa 1930. (photo credit: James Crookall)

I’m not a big fan of nostalgia. Here’s why:

The Golden Age of Aviation” was a time when the only people who flew themselves in an airplane were titans of industry, movie stars, or crazy people.

The aviation industry is on course to revert back to the 1930′s. This is bad, bad, news, because if you look at what aviation was like back between the world wars, it was a terrible time.

Folks in our community complain about how private aviation is circling the drain, that it’s a lost cause. I refuse to believe that. We just have too many things going for us. I believe the future of private aviation is viable, as long as we stop trying to relive the past.

The first few chapters of the book, “Free Flight,” by James Fallows, pretty much lit my brain on fire. It remains one of the best, most objective, primers on the state of aviation in America. The rest of the book focuses on the trajectory of both Cirrus and Eclipse and their attempts to disrupt and reinvent air travel in the last decade.

Fallows nails it when he explains that there are two kinds of people. There are “the Enthusiasts,” (You, me, and most anyone reading this.) and “the Civilians.” (everyone else.)

On Enthusiasts
“…The typical gathering of pilots is like a RV or hot rod–enthusiasts’s club. People have grease under their fingernails. The aircraft business is littered with stories of start-up companies that failed. One important reason is that, as with wineries or small country inns or literary magazines, people have tried to start businesses because they loved the activity, not because they necessarily had a good business plan.”

On Civilians
“Civilians–mean most of the rest of us– view airplanes not as fascinating objects but as transportation. Planes are better than cars, buses, or trains to the extent that they are faster. Over the last generation, most civilians have learned to assume that large airliners nearly always take off and land safely. …From the civilian perspective, the bigger the plane, the better. Most civilians view people who fly small planes the way I view people who bungee-jump or climb Mount Everest; they are nuts.”

James Fallows, “Free Flight, Inventing the future of Travel

Fallows calmly explains how travel for most of us has gotten worse, not better in the last 30 years. He stresses that the hub and spoke system adopted by the airlines post deregulation has contributed to the misery. He cites former NASA administrator Daniel Golden, who noted in 1998 that the average speed door to door traveling on commercial airlines had sunk to only around fifty or sixty miles an hour.

The book concisely charts how we got into this fine mess. He compares how air travel works today to that of the world before automobiles. In the last generation, the airlines have benefited the most from investment in development and infrastructure. Today we pack most people onto what may as well be very fast train lines that go from major metro to major metro. Cornelius Vanderbilt would be so proud.

The other side of the coin is what General Aviation has evolved to for the folks who have the means to fly private jets. The industry has done a fabulous job of responding to the needs of the very small percentage of us who can afford to operate or charter turbine aircraft. This equipment flies higher and faster than most airliners, and can get people to small airports much closer to almost any destination. Fallows shows how this is analogous to travel by limousine. Remember, when cars first appeared on the road, they were considered too complicated and too dangerous for mere mortals to operate. Anyone who could afford one, hired a professional driver. I’m sure Andrew Carnegie was chauffeured from point to point too.

So for the most part, we have trains and limousines. It’s like some bizarre alternate history world where Henry Ford never brought us the automobile.

I refuse to believe that we’re simply on the wrong side of history here.

It’s actually a pretty great time to be a pilot. The equipment has never been more reliable, the tools keep making it easier, and the value proposition keeps getting more compelling compared to other modes of travel when you note that moving about the country on the airlines or the highways keeps slowing down due to congestion. For the first time in history, for most of us the country is no longer growing smaller. It’s getting bigger.

A few examples of what excites me about the future of aviation, and what I hope can prove to be disrupters looking forward…

  • ICON A5 – A 2 seat jet ski with wings that you can tow behind your pickup.
  • Cirrus Vision SF50 – 5 Seats, single jet engine, it’s going to define a completely new category for very light jets. I imagine it to be like a Tesla and an iPad mashed together in one 300 knot machine.
  • Whatever it is that Elon Musk builds next – please, please, please, let it be a flying car.

The future is bright, as long as we don’t go backwards.

Will Fly for Pie!

Friday, May 30th, 2014

 

 1910 Fun

Circa 1910 Airplane Fun

Some pilots have all the fun.  When you think about it, fun is why most of us started flying. According to the National Endowment for the Humanities having fun is a relatively new concept in our nation’s lexicon. In the early twentieth century, the former Victorian ideals of decorum and self-restraint, once prevalent in the nineteenth century, gave way to the notion that “having fun” was good for one’s health and overall well being.

Cheap Suits in formation

Circa 2014 Airplane Fun

The Cheap Suits Flying Club exemplifies fun.  Recently I got a chance to talk to Joe Borzelleri, the co-founder of the flying club.  He was thrilled to tell me about the origins of the club, and how he believes that social flying clubs can impact General Aviation in a positive way.  “We are a bunch of guys and gals in Northern and Central California who fly high drag, low speed airplanes. Our mission statement: “We Fly for Pie!” We are known as the “Cheap Suit” Flying Club. This IS the most fun flying club in the history of ever,” says Joe.

Joe Borzelleri and John "Cabi" Cabigas Founders

Joe Borzelleri and John “Cabi” Cabigas,  Founders

This “flying club”, which started out very much tongue in cheek, was meant to be fun from the get go. Joe says, “In the beginning it was my good J-3 Cub buddy, John (Cabi) Cabigas, and me. It was not meant to be a formal club and it still is not. There are no regular meetings, no by-laws, no board of directors, no dues and no rules. The name Cheap Suit came about when Cabi suggested the use of a VHF interplane frequency that approximated the price of an inexpensive suit.”

Not long after, Cabi shared a logo to use.  Joe designed the front of the shirt to have the look of a cheap brown leisure suit. Soon, both designs were on t-shirts and with that, they were a fully functioning club with a flight suit!

Soon a Facebook “Cheap Suit” page was created. That’s when things really took off. Cheap Suits began to post their fly outs and other shenanigans on Facebook. It didn’t take long to have a large following. Cubs, Colts, C-120s/140s and other fabric-covered fun performance airplanes, soon joined them.

Cheap Suits Flight Suit

Cheap Suits Flight Suit

Cabi has taught many of the Suits the finer points of flying safely in formation. They also have participated in several memorial missing man formations for other aviators who have gone west.

About two years into the “Cheap Suits” flying club’s tenure, Joe began to pursue the idea of taking over the day-to-day management of his home airport, Sutter County (O52).  He says, “I was inspired by you and Mitch and the Friends of Oceano Airport (L52,) to get out there to do something to keep my airport open and affordable. The group of pilots involved in the organization are very passionate and love their home airport. I was thinking that if we could organize a bunch of guys to go get a $100 burger nearly every weekend, we might be able to form a legitimate organization and come up with a plan to run our airport.”

By utilizing social media, email and posters, they were able to organize a large group of local pilots and aircraft owners to form a non-profit organization. With the help of the California Pilot’s Association they did just that.  It has been a little over 2 years since that first meeting, and the Sutter Buttes Regional Aviation Association, will take over the management of the Sutter County Airport (O52) on July 1st, 2014!  “It was a road paved with red tape, and we couldn’t have not done it without the help of Stephen Whitmarsh of SBRAA, Cal Pilot’s Jay White, Bill Dunn and John Pfeifer of AOPA, along with Corl Leach and Bill Turpie of the Lincoln Regional Pilot’s Association, Harrison Gibbs of the Turlock Regional Aviation Association and Geoff Logan of Business Aviation Insurance Services, Inc.” says Joe.

Sutter Buttes Regional Aviation Association

Sutter Buttes Regional Aviation Association

The “Cheap Suits” Flying Club has been around for 5 years now. During this time they have flown to over 100 fly outs and airshows, and have flown thousands of miles, in close formation. The Suits have eaten a million dollars’ worth of burgers and pie, formed a non-profit airport management group and created many close friendships with other airplane people. What they do isn’t so much about airplanes, though. It’s about fun times, flying memories, shredded toilet paper, river runs, making lifetime friendships, helping friends in need, and hanging out with people who love life.  Maybe a story like this will inspire you to do something fun at your home ‘drome.  After all if they knew in 1900s that fun was “good for one’s health and well-being,” who are we to argue?

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cheap-Suits-Flying-Club/141010646601

http://www.sutterbuttesaviation.org/

http://www.CalPilots.org

From Cheetos® to Gyros: one man’s attempt to engage high school students in aviation business

Friday, May 2nd, 2014
Bob Velker is the Business Liaison & Community Outreach Manager at Chino Airport, CA [KCNO].  As such is he is really an ambassador for the airport and the business park within its boundaries.  He has developed a program for high school students to spend a day learning about industry and career opportunities at the airport.  During my recent tour, he kept repeating that Chino Airport was really a light industrial park, with runways. After my visit, I could see why.

The local high schools receive the benefit of a full-day program for their upper division students including lunch at famous Flo’s Restaurant. The kids get the day away from campus, education about the career vocations offered by an airport, plus a super cool two-week internship possibility.

The syllabus for the day at the airport lists a sampling of the career vocations offered at Chino Airport [as well as many mid-to large airports around the country]

Crew
    • Commercial pilot/co-pilot
    • Operations
    • Instructions
Where opportunity takes flight

Chino Airport…where opportunity takes flight

Maintenance

  • Airframe
  • Engines
  • Detailer
  • Director of Maintenance
  • Logistics

Refurbishment

  • Exterior Paint and Body work
  • Interior Design, Fabric, woodworking, metal working, installation

Air Traffic Control

Computer & Information Technology

Police and Fire Fighting

Ground [Field] Operations

  • Fuel
  • Taxi
  • Support Vehicles
  • Field Markings
  • Taxi/Runway
  • Baggage Handling
  • Food Service
  • Management

Administration

  • Marketing
  • Business
  • Management
  • Finance
  • Customer Service
  • Dispatch

Non-Profits

  • Museums
  • Restoration
  • Historians

During the morning session the students spend time with AeroTrader which has 50 employees in aircraft restoration, repairs, engine re-building, fabrication and machine shop.  They also tour Threshold an FBO that has 60 employees working in charter operations, aircraft maintenance and aircraft management.  Both of these businesses need a mix of vocational and skilled employees.

After lunch at Flo’s the groups go to SCE, a public utilities company with 40 employees. Then on to Mach One Air Charters [8 employees] , DuBois Aviation [20 employees] and ending with the Planes of Fame Air Museum, a non-profit with 35 employees.  Along the way the kids see the tower and ATC system, learn about Young Eagles, and other businesses on field including avionics repair.

At the end of the day, if a student identifies a strong interest in working for one of the employers highlighted in a session they are given the opportunity to participate in a two-week internship.  All of the businesses at Chino, or any airport for that matter, need workers trained through vocational programs or skilled technical programs. Most high schools now offer various tracks to their students to meet those needs.

I think that Bob Velker has struck gold with this idea.  Not only does it get people to the airport other than pilots, it helps to highlight that our airports offer tremendous economic value and are an economic engine for our communities.  The students might be able to “see” themselves in an aviation career other than that of a pilot. Opportunities like this day-long event open young minds to the career possibilities in aviation. As a parent of a teenager myself, I welcome an opportunity for a child to be able to get their head out of the phone, video game, or chip bag, and into the possibilities of a career in aviation.

Imagine Mega Mobility

Thursday, May 1st, 2014

Imagine the advantages of combining an automobile’s ease of operation with an aircraft’s performance.   The resulting mega expansion in mobility would generate huge business opportunities and improve quality of life.

 History shows that transportation improvements expand economic and social benefits.  As stated by James Rood Doolittle in his 1916 tome, The Romance of the Automobile Industry, “Transportation has been the ladder upon which humanity has climbed, rung by rung, from a condition of primitive savagery to the complex degree of civilization enjoyed by man in the twentieth century.”  A vehicle that combined the user friendliness of the car with the speed and range of a typical GA aircraft would bring a new dimension of travel to the twenty-first century.

Today’s automobiles are so easy to operate that obtaining a driver’s license is more commonplace than graduating from high school.  The public feels sufficiently comfortable with their driving abilities that they are willing to rent a car they have never driven previously and venture into a dark and stormy night, even when they are unfamiliar with the surrounding area.   Technology has created very reliable vehicles, in-car navigation systems that assure even remote locations can be found, and highways that are sound.   The resulting mobility supports commerce and unites people wherever roads exist across our nation.

Imagine an aircraft that owners find as easy to operate as an automobile but can travel twice or three as fast and is not constrained to a system of roads.  Users of such a vehicle would have access to vastly more locations than can be reached with the family car. 

Pipe Dream? Absolutely not!  Just as technology enabled the car’s advance, so will technology enable the “aerial automobile” to be a reality.  The first cars, developed in the early 1800s and powered by steam engines, were so heavy that they were legislated against because they destroyed the existing roads.  Gasoline engines and new tires developed before the end of the nineteenth century overcame that obstacle.

Today, new propulsion systems ranging from electric motors driving ducted fans to fuel-efficient diesels are emerging, as are structural designs employing lightweight composites.  Concepts of vertical take-off and landing are within reach. Most exciting, in my opinion, are the advanced avionics systems that would enable the aircraft to operate easily in its own bubble of airspace specified by a 4D (latitude, longitude, height and time) ATC system. Infrastructure development such as an advanced ATC system will follow just as the automobile of 110 years ago stimulated the construction of hard surface roads.  (When the Wrights first flew, there were about 200 miles of paved roads in the USA.)   Applications of today’s automation systems, such as employed in advanced autopilots and drones, will result in handing qualities and operational ease that would require less skill that driving a car.  Operating such an advance personal transport would be comfortable and very safe.

Cost?  In 1903, the George N. Pierce Company introduced its Arrow line of automobiles.  The 1904 Great Arrow sold for $4,000, which was about four times the average person’s annual wage at the time and reflected the limited number of cars sold (between 1901 and 1903, Pierce sold about 170 units.)   Adjusted for inflation, the Great Arrow’s price tag would exceed $102,000 today.

Due in large part to volume production, today’s technologically sophisticated and highly useful automobiles are priced within the reach of the average US worker.  Consider what cars would cost if they were produced at the rate of Bonanza production—about 35 a year.

I contend that an advanced personal transport would be sufficiently beneficial to attract large numbers of buyers and thus be offered at price close to that of a high-end car.  With the application of existing technology and with enlightened infrastructure development, price would not be a show-stopper.

Imaging what benefits such mobility would provide.

Why I Am Not Surprise, Just Disappointed

Friday, April 4th, 2014

Each morning I read a New York newspaper that is world renowned for its journalistic excellence but is often taken to task by conservatives.  Its coverage is complete, and for the most part its articles are well researched.   Recently, however, an Op Ed writer demonstrated a stereotype and uninformed attitude toward corporate jets, as if those two words were an affront to America.

 

Segments of the press as well as parts of the Obama Administration seem to have a blind eye toward the role that Business Aviation plays in the economic growth and quality of life of our nation.  Transportation is an enabling technology for business success.  Without the ability to bring the ebb and flow of commerce to all of America, including those rural areas where workers are available and quality of life is good, our nation would concentrate industry in locations served only by the Airlines.  In addition to limited economic development, such massing of industry in urban centers would lead to more congestion and other social problems.

 

Scheduled Airlines provide service to about 10 percent of the locations in the USA with public-use airports, but most business-friendly schedules connect about 1 percent of cities and towns with airports available to business.   Consider that statistic—99 locations out of every 100 with public-use airports lack business-friendly service by scheduled Airlines.  Except between major hubs, scheduled air carriers are unable to facilitate efficient business travel for companies that wish to see customers or manage employees in several cities in one day or avoid time-consuming overnight stays.

 

Furthermore, the scheduled Airlines do not want to serve locations where the demand for public air transportation is low.  Even at major hubs, schedules have been cut to assure higher load factors. Airline departures from secondary hubs have been reduced by over 20 percent in the last five or so years.  The Airline business model simply does not address many needs of business.  Our nation requires Business Aviation to fill the transportation gap not served by the Airlines.  In fact, the Airlines and Business Aviation are partners in providing our nation with safe and efficient transportation needed for economic development.

 

Critics argue that owners of corporate jets get unfair tax breaks and do not pay their fair share for use of the nation’s Air Traffic Control system.  They fail to realize, or acknowledge, that a business aircraft is treated like other capital assets.  To be subject to the tax rules for depreciation and deductions of operating costs, the asset must be ordinary and necessary to the furtherance of the company’s business.  Business use must be the primary reason for the company’s ownership, and when used personally appropriate adjustments must be made to the company’s and the individual’s tax liabilities. If a company provides too much personal use, the corporate jet is not considered a business asset.

 

I believe a corporate jet receives greater scrutiny than any other company asset.  The IRS is quick to examine any claims to deduct aircraft expenses.  Shareholders often exhibit the same skepticism as the press and the government.  Thus Boards of Directors are very careful that a corporate jet is managed with a degree of professionalism and honesty that passes the most careful review.

 

The fare-share issue has been well vetted.  All users of corporate jets pay a fuel tax that compensates the government for Business Aviation’s marginal use of an ATC system that would exist even if all corporate jets and private aircraft were grounded.

 

Regarding the use of a corporate jet to assure efficient use of time and to provide security while traveling, no one seems to question why our nation’s CEO must use Air Force One.   Nor should critics of Business Aviation fail to attribute the same needs to company CEOs.

 

I urge all who understand and appreciate the benefits of Business Aviation to inform friends and colleagues about the reasons why corporate jets are beneficial to our nation’s wellbeing, even for the many citizens who do not use them directly.  (The company with a business aircraft may well be their employer or customer.)  By doing so, we who believe in Business Aviation’s many benefits to our nation may not be so disappointed when a respected journalist addresses corporate jets.

Community Events Make Airport Good Neighbor Pt.1

Sunday, March 9th, 2014

On Valentine’s Day I was happy to read that a federal judge dismissed the lawsuit brought about by the city of Santa Monica to take control of the airport with a goal of closing it and developing the land for other purposes. While this is happy news, it is also a temporary reprieve from the vocal minority of residents who oppose Santa Monica airport and who must be completely uneducated about its value in our national network of General Aviation airports.   As a psychotherapist for 25 years, I believe I have come to understand the psychology of life.  In my experience there are three kinds of people:
• Those who watch their life happen;
• Those who make their life happen;
• And those who wonder, “How does life happen?”

When it comes to General Aviation and the promotion of G.A. airports, we need to be firmly in the “make it happen” camp. Hopefully this blog will help inspire you to bring the fun back to your airport and illuminate to your community that airports indeed make good neighbors.

Positive aspect of promotion, inspiring the love of flight
Let’s bring the fun back to the airport. What are your earliest memories of aviation? Perhaps your Dad took you to the airport so you could watch airplanes take off and land. Remember your first flight? How can you make those memories for someone else?  Aviation is magical, yet we know the science behind the magic.  Inspiring the love of flight means going back to the magic and sharing it with others. You don’t have to focus solely on children. At our Mooney Ambassador events we meet adults who have always wanted to fly, and with encouragement, might take the first step.  Your enthusiasm is contagious.

Friends of Oceano Airport Toys for Tots

Friends of Oceano Airport, Toys for Tots

Community outreach a.k.a. fun ways we can get folks out to your airport:

•    Airport Day:  Does your local airport have a Celebration Day, Airport Day or Open House?  Have you thought about helping to volunteer versus just attending?  If there is no event, why not look into having a “Good Neighbor Day” or Airport Day?  Perhaps your airport used to have an event, but not now?  Have a small event to start with. AOPA publishes a wonderful guide to hosting an open house. In the photo below, we brought an inflatable kiddie swimming to a hot summer event, and our airplane display was the most popular by far!

•    Toys for Tots:  A lovely way to bring the community to your airport is to have a Toys for Tots event.  Contact your local T4T/Marine Corps representative and talk with them about the idea.  Folks can drive in, walk in or fly in bringing new unwrapped toys. Due to increased need for programs like Toys for Tots, toys and dollars donated helps local kids directly.
•    Fly-In Movie Night
Fly-in, walk-in, drive in, it doesn’t matter!  If you have a hangar, campground or open area you can host a Fly-In movie night, you can make a theater!  I suggest the event be free of charge.  Offer hot dogs, beverages, popcorn, and s’mores on a donation basis.  Show a family-friendly movie that has an aviation theme.

Make airport events fun

Make airport events fun!

Check back next month for the final installment.  Until then, be on the look out for an excuse to have an event at your airport. Remember everyone loves a good party.

You and User Fees

Friday, March 7th, 2014

President Obama’s recently released budget for the federal government’s 2015 fiscal year, which proposes a $100 per flight fee for turbine-powered aircraft using air traffic services, prompts reminiscence of President Reagan’s frequent phase: “There they go again”. This is the fourth year that the Obama Administration has called for such user fees, and Congress has turned down that request in each previous attempt.

Regardless of the party that occupies the White House, user fees seem to be included in early discussions of revenue sources for the government. During my tenure as President of the National Business Aviation Association, 1992-2003, we joined with AOPA and other associations to counter the threat of user fees three times. During the next 10 years, the issue surfaced frequently. So far, thanks to coordinated and skillful lobbying by the aviation community, Congress has refused to follow the Siren’s call. The associations have successfully argued that a fuel tax is the most efficient and fair way to participate in compensating the taxpayer for Business Aviation’s use of the Air Traffic Control system. The point has been made, and rightfully so, that all of General Aviation is carrying its fair share.

Beware! Another phase we often hear is “Past performance is no guarantee of future results”. Just because our community has been successful in countering past arguments in favor of additional fees for using the nation’s airspace, we cannot ignore this latest attempt to tax GA’s turbine fleet. Each of us needs to be mindful that user fees could become a reality, particularly if we take for granted that dealing with this issue is someone else’s responsibility.

While the Obama budget proposal exempts (that’s the wording in the Administration’s document) piston aircraft and aircraft operating outside of controlled airspace, the imposition for fees on turbine aircraft opens the door to taxing other users of the National Airspace System. That which is exempted today may be included tomorrow.

Nor should we overlook the negative impact on safety that fees for accessing ATC services might have. Aircraft operators are not anxious to open their wallets without just cause. There will be those aviators who may attempt to avoid ATC services by operating outside of controlled airspace. While such actions are highly unlikely in the congested regions along our coasts and near major cities, in remote areas we might see turbine aircraft dashing from place to place at altitudes just below FL180. We should be careful not to invite unsafe practices, no matter how remote the possibility.

All who participate in General Aviation—from operators of business jets and turboprops to recreational pilots, as well as all aviators between those bounds—should counter the frequent attempts of the federal administration to impose additional user fees. Consider several steps:

• Educate others about our community. Recognize that the average voter knows little about General Aviation, which we usually define by what it isn’t: It’s not Military Aviation or the Airlines—it’s everything else. Air transportation is the backbone of domestic and international business today, and GA is an integral part of that air transportation system.
• Inform the uninformed that all aviation contributes to funding the ATC system. Airline passengers pay a ticket tax; GA pays a fuel tax, with turbine aircraft paying a higher user fee than pistons. Emphasize that the fuel tax is a very efficient way to put GA money into the federal system.
• Communicate the advantages of using business aircraft to advance the ebb and flow of commerce throughout our country. The Schedules Airlines do not provide the degree of air transportation needed to serve many businesses. They do not want to provide service to locations with low levels of passenger traffic. Many locations depend upon Business Aviation for their lifeline to economic opportunity. In fact, the Scheduled Airlines and General Aviation are virtual partners in providing our nation with a safe and efficient means of air transportation. Additional user fees on GA will inhibit the use of a valuable resource.

Our community’s associations, including AOPA, NBAA and the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), do an excellent job lobbying our elected officials. But there is a difference between lobbying and advocating. Lobbying is directed at elected officials. Advocacy is directed at the voters who elect the Members of Congress. Congressmen and women listen to voters. By communicating knowledgably with friends and associates, you can be a significant force for advocating the benefits of all General Aviation and fighting user fees.